Supreme Court: The bench of UU Lalit and Ajay Rastogi, JJ has held that such persons whose place of origin/domicile on or before the appointed day i.e. 15th November, 2000 was of the State of Bihar now falling within the districts/regions which form a successor State, i.e., State of Jharkhand under Section 3 of the Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000 can claim the benefit of reservation for participation in public employment in either of the successor State of Bihar or State of Jharkhand. Reservation can, however, not be claimed in both the States simultaneously.
What was the case about?
- The Court was dealing with the case wherein the appellant’s father originally belonged to District Patna in the State of Bihar but as alleged, the appellant was born on 27th November, 1974 in Hazaribagh where his father was residing which earlier was part of the unified State of Bihar but after the Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000 came into force from the appointed day, i.e. 15th November 2000, District Hazaribagh became part of the successor State of Jharkhand.
- It was his case that he was born & brought up and took his education within the territory which is now in the State of Jharkhand.
- He belongs to Scheduled Caste category and a certificate was issued by the competent authority in the State of Jharkhand.
- He was appointed on the post of Assistant Teacher on 21st December, 1999 and posted in a school in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand against the post reserved for SC category and pursuant to the cadre revision on bifurcation of the States, he opted the State of Jharkhand.
- He then appeared as a member of SC category in the third Combined Civil Services examination, 2008 and cleared the preliminary, as well as main examination followed with an interview and the final result was published in the year 2010 and his name appeared at Sl. No. 5 against 17 vacancies reserved for Scheduled Caste category.
- However, his appointment order was withheld on the ground that he is permanent resident of District Patna in the State of Bihar and hence, is to be treated as migrant to the State of Jharkhand.
- In consequence, he was not eligible for appointment in Scheduled Caste category pursuant to his participation in the selection process held in the Combined Civil Services Examination, 2008.
It was argued by the State of Jharkhand that the existing service conditions including benefit of reservation in the promotional cadre post shall not be varied to his disadvantage but he shall be considered to be a migrant to the State of Jharkhand while participating in public employment to compete in open/general category and asked to seek the benefit of reservation in the neighbouring State of Bihar, to hold different status in his parent State of Jharkhand after he became a member of service of the State of Jharkhand, serving for sufficient long time on and after the appointed day, i.e. 15th November, 2000 in the State.
The Court found this argument unsustainable in law and in contravention to the scheme of the Act 2000. The Court said,
“The collective readings of the provisions of the Act, 2000 makes it apparent that such of the persons whose place of origin/domicile on or before the appointed day was of the State of Bihar now falling within the districts/regions which form a successor State, i.e., State of Jharkhand under Section 3 of the Act, 2000 became ordinary resident of the State of Jharkhand, at the 43 same time, so far as the employees who were in public employment in the State of Bihar on or before the appointed day, i.e. 15th November, 2000 under the Act 2000, apart from those who are domicile of either of the district which became part of the State of Jharkhand, such of the emploees who have submitted their option or employees who are junior in the cadre of their seniority as per the policy of the Government of India of which a reference has been made, either voluntarily or involuntarily call upon to serve the State of Jharkhand, their existing service conditions shall not be varied to their disadvantage and stands protected by virtue of Section 73 of the Act, 2000.”
Holding that the appellant would be entitled to claim the benefit of reservation including the privileges and benefits admissible to the members of Scheduled Caste category in the State of Jharkhand for all practical purposes including participation in open competition seeking public employment, the Court said,
“It will be highly unfair and pernicious to their interest if the benefits of reservation with privileges and benefits flowing thereof are not being protected in the State of Jharkhand after he is absorbed by virtue to Section 73 of the Act 2000 that clearly postulates not only to protect the existing service conditions but the benefit of reservation and privileges which he was enjoying on or before the appointed day, i.e. 15th November, 2000 in the State of Bihar not to be varied to his disadvantage after he became a member of service in the State of Jharkhand.”
- Such of the employees who are members of the SC/ST/OBC whose caste/tribe has been notified by an amendment to the Constitution(Scheduled Castes)/(Scheduled Tribes) Order 1950 under Vth and VIth Schedule to Sections 23 and 24 of the Act 2000 or by the separate notification for members of other backward class category, benefit of reservation including privileges and benefits flowing thereof, shall remain protected by virtue of Section 73 of the Act 2000 for all practical purposes which can be claimed (including by their wards) for participation in public employment.
- A person is entitled to claim benefit of reservation in either of the successor State of Bihar or State of Jharkhand, but will not be entitled to claim benefit of reservation simultaneously in both the successor States and those who are members of the reserved category and are resident of the successor State of Bihar, while participating in open selection in State of Jharkhand shall be treated to be migrants and it will be open to participate in general category without claiming the benefit of reservation and vice-versa.
[Pankaj Kumar v. State of Jharkhand, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 616, decided on 19.08.2021]
*Judgment by: Justice Ajay Rastogi